I had a cool TA in college who helped reframe the way I thought about the world. He convinced me to express my disgust regarding the vague political issues I didn’t quite understand, like fracking, to anyone who would listen. In hindsight, I realize that guy only seemed smart because I was such a fumbling dickweed. I think I speak for all hip-hop fans when I say that Talib Kweli is the rapper version of that TA.
Because the Internet
It’s weirdly satisfying to watch people you despise sink into the depths of soul-crushing depression. It reminds you that no matter how perfect some people appear to be, their insides are burning with the same ego-crushing emotional pain yours are. Take comedian, TV star, rapper, and generally attractive male human Donald Glover. He just made this conventionally good rap record, which is doubly satisfying as a concept album documenting Honest Don’s slow realization that he’s nothing more than a mangled soul trudging a forced march toward the icy, unforgiving embrace of death.
BEST COVER OF THE MONTH
7 Days of Funk
Snoop probably abandoned his last givable fuck back in 2005 when he propositioned the owner of a weed dispensary to install a waterslide, which explains why the walking godhead who created an archetype for all West Coast gangster rap hasn’t rounded out the elder- statesman part of his career in a cringe-worthy attempt to become LA’s Jay-Z. Instead Snoop seems content jumping paws-first into quirky genre exercises, whether it’s DJing as Snoopadelic, making a reggae album with Diplo, or cooking up this dirty, synth-y funk album with Dâm-Funk, the last remaining standard-bearer for all things stank. They seem so perfect together I’m surprised they don’t have their own sitcom.
There are two facts about Rick Ross that are self-evident: one, his name is two first names; two, the man likes to eat. You might think it’s funny to make jokes about his heft or goofy name, but it turns out the joke’s on you: Rick Ross is actually two dudes trapped in one dude’s body. There’s Rick, who makes all the Rick Ross songs about shooting traitors with elephant guns, and then there’s Ross, who’s in charge of generating Rick Ross songs about blowjobs on yachts. This record is 40 percent Rick, 60 percent Ross, and 100 percent ass-fuck crazy town.
The Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil, Vol. 4–6
Heavy on the Grind Entertainment
E-40 was spawned from a time I like to call the Era of the Microsoft Zune (a.k.a. the late 90s/early 2000s) and has somehow managed to keep persuading people to give him money to make unmemorable music. The one thing he got correct is the realization that the days when a rapper was supposed to release one perfect album every couple of years are as dead as Eazy-E, which I guess is why he’s taken to annually releasing triple albums with 45 songs on them. It’s not like they’re completely awful or anything, but this record has a standard deviation of approximately zilch minus nil. If the E-40 of the 90s could have invented a time machine instead of coining indispensible phrases like “Captain Save a Hoe,” he’d zap into the future and Tase his own ball bag.
A THOUSAND-YEAR-OLD MAN
Liking music should never be easy. That’s why the recent EDM thing has been so frustrating. People used to be willing to go to prison in the fight for their dumb right to take drugs and listen to shitty music. EDM has taken it full circle by turning wasteoids dancing to bad music into the fabric of an entire industry. But wait, what? This is “real” dance music and not “EDM”? Either way, it sounds like a toilet flushing to these old ears. And, oh great, now it’s clogged and there’s shit-water all over the floor.
WEST NORWOOD CASSETTE LIBRARY
8 Track Cartridge
This record has songs with names like “Acid Jazz,” “Vibrations,” “Innervisions,” “Bubble” (mmm, this one’s kind of cute, actually), “Roots,” “Body Rock,” “Time Loops,” and “We Have to Live in the Future.” Too bad there’s no panacea for being permanently monged out.
Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller
I love it when defunct techno artists pop out of the grave with Really Fucking Important reissues because I get to watch my DJ friends splooge themselves with glee. Even if it’s Drexciya, one of the weirdest outfits to come out of Detroit’s 90s techno scene (they claim to be the offspring of African slaves who were expelled from an America-bound ship). And up until this point their shit has been virtually impossible to find; when this drops, my friends are going to get so excited they’ll be swimming in a pool of cum, gurgling (and gargling), “Hallelujah, bitches!”
YOKO FOUR LOKO
We’ve been down with Lee since he was fucking around with all those New York high school-age rappers orbiting the Pro Era crew. Then a few months back he released a one-song EP, which basically makes him rap game Jack Nance. His current stuff is a bit too trappy for my taste, but you can tell he’s into some deep shit here. My gut tells me he’ll always make time to lay down a trippy sonic mattress for some rando struggle rapper who needs a place to crash.
WORST COVER OF THE MONTH
America would like to apologize for the following: flooding you with deadbeat “artists,” turning Berghain into Disneyland, snorting all your good speed, and all the American knob-diddlers who’ve decided your city is where every DJ needs to be. Like this guy, who was so touched by your beauty while riding the U-Bahn after raving for 14 hours, he decided to cut an entire EP about his super unique, awesome expat experience. Actually, let’s be real. It’s your fault for handing out visas like supermarket coupons.
DISFIGURING THE GODDESS
Remember Joose? That 24-ounce blackout in a can that fueled your first toejob sesh? That stuff was banned a few years ago during the malt-liquor wars of 2010 because its ingredients included sewage runoff and liquid AIDS (not really, but basically). But even after it was banned in New York, I could always count on my buddy Todd to have a couple cans hidden in the vegetable drawer of his fridge. I’d ride my bike over to his house, and we’d knock a couple back as an eye-opener, along with whoever had crashed in his backyard the night before. I miss those quiet moments—the sun soft and golden just like in a car commercial—as the buzz kicked in like a retarded donkey with three legs. Then Todd would fire up his massive PA system as loud as it would go, aim it at the neighbors, and put on grindy pig core like this just to piss off the “whiny-ass chips next door.” I’m not sure if that counts as a good review, but I can recommend this record as great asshole repellent.
Live at Brixton
You know when an idea or concept is so foreign to you that you can’t wrap your head around it, no matter how hard you try? Like the fact that they call traffic lights “robots” in South Africa? Well, in that respect, Mastodon are Canadian milk in a bag. They’re so milk-in-a-bag you start to wonder if it’s all a big joke and everyone who downloaded this 97-minute performance is lying to themselves. Think about all the beautiful simpletons who attended this show in hopes of being canonized among their fellow man on a rock ’n’ roll album for all eternity. Then think about their greatest common denominator: the ability to be sold the same fucking album for ten years straight.
RONNY J. HOLMES
We All Grow Toward the Sea
This is my buddy Dan’s band, and I like him because he’s a bald, card-carrying pinko who’ll smoke 15 Swisher Sweets in a night and rant about the “escalating incongruities between socialized production and private ownership of surplus.” He’s also a record producer, which means he’s a part-time nanny to the human babies who play in rock ’n’ roll bands. That’s how I met him. When he recorded my drumming, he used to pat me on the back and tell me I was the next Steve Shelley. Then, when I went for a smoke, it was Dan in there fixing all my fuck-ups and polishing my sonic ass nuggets into something halfway tolerable. What I didn’t know was that all the while he was recording his own art-pop stuff on the side, playing all the instruments and singing and handling the recording duties too. This flies in the face of that time-tested axiom that everyone in the music industry who does anything besides rock the fuck out isn’t worth his or her weight in fetid afterbirth.
Join the Dots
This stuff is OK. I listened to track four first, because that’s the power slot. It reminded me of that one song from White Knuckle Extreme: Best of BMX in 2002. Those were the golden days, back when everything was about poppy, good vibes and sponsorship money was flowing unimpeded. I mean, dudes still listened to Slayer—especially the old dudes who’d gritted out the dark days of the 90s—but it’s way easier think about why Jim Cielencki went bald so young when you’re watching him smith-grind to a Sarge track.
Live at Rome Olympic Stadium
There is no band on earth that thinks they’re more important and culturally significant than Muse, the poor man’s version of the poor man’s Radiohead (Coldplay). Yes, that’s correct: I am claiming, in writing, that Coldplay is better than another band, even though the superior band is led by a man who’s currently wearing a jacket with no fewer than seven front pockets and probably at least three epaulets and isn’t Michael Jackson.
Life, Hope & Love
Boston’s new record has an ace in the hole most arena-rock comeback albums would get down on their knees and beg for: a depraved, disembodied, three-octave-spanning voice from beyond the grave. Maybe you don’t remember the time Boston’s old singer had a little thing for his fiancée’s sister, which turned into a really big and illegal thing when he hid a webcam in her room. After she found the camera, he ended up killing himself by sealing off his master bedroom, lighting two charcoal grills, and attaching a hose to his car’s exhaust pipe. Listening to his voice on this record is scarier than the realization that somewhere, Brad Delp is watching over us, limp, phantasmic penis in hand, singing “More Than a Feeling” while weeping and masturbating with a little noose. If that’s not rock ’n’ roll, I dunno what is.
Welcome to Chinatown (D.O.A. Live)
D.O.A. are one of Canada’s prototypical hardcore bands, so it makes sense that their song titles here are so achingly punk they must be doing it on purpose. “That’s Why I’m an Atheist”; “Fuck You”; “I Hate You”; “Marijuana Motherfucker”; “I’m Right, You’re Wrong”; “Disco Sucks.” They are all on point and 100 percent correct. D.O.A. is great if you want to feel 15 and trapped in a sweaty, alcohol-free VFW hall that smells like ferret dick, but if you have a job and responsibilities this is going to really piss you off, because even though D.O.A. is breaking up, their lead singer will never not be named Joey Shithead.
The White Goddess
20 Buck Spin
Atlantean Kodex’s guitarist once described their music as “a trip through the dark underbelly of European folklore to a realm of fertility cults, fire-worship, and corn-demons.” On my planet, this sounds like God took a Renaissance faire sponsored by a German tampon company, turned it upside down, and shook it. It doesn’t matter though, because every song on this is really fucking long—except for the ambient Zelda soundtrack stuff on the interludes—which means you’ll never get through it anyway.
You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Disaster/Fix the Sunshine Pts. 1–7 (An Ode to Bill Doss)
Here’s the Behind the Music on this growler: some guy from an indie-pop band you’ve never heard of made some albums nobody cared about. Then he took a hiatus from music to make paintings and consider killing himself. Right as he was about to deepthroat a tailpipe, a friend of his burst in and rained on his suicide parade. Then he became a life coach and made this totally boring album influenced by both hip-hop and classical music (I’m not kidding, this stuff is in the press release). I’m pretty sure it’s meant to be “psychedelic” and “eclectic” and “life-affirming,” but once this record tanks he’ll probably end up offing himself anyway because death always finds a way.
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS
Live from KCRW
Bad Seed Ltd.
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ brilliantly titled fourth live album, Live from KCRW, is pretty much exactly what you’d expect: a record of good songs you already know played live at an awesome radio station. For maximum fun times, grab your boyfriend or girlfriend (none of this “partner” bullshit, please, this isn’t a fucking Western) and dance around the living room in slow motion.
You Were Right
One of the challenges of populating VICE’s reviews section is we sometimes end up shining the spotlight on boring artists who suck. Earlier today, we were faced with the dilemma, “The dude from Raconteurs who isn’t Jack White has a new record. Do people care?” We sent out an office email, and the answer was “Who?” But we ended up reviewing it anyway because we consider telling you not to buy it to be a public service.
My Baby and Me EP
It’s impossible to find records to review for December because PR flacks don’t let bands put stuff out around the holidays because pedantic music critics are too busy focusing on year-end lists to give a single whitehead on an ass pimple about new records. So last month, when an email popped into my inbox with this album (which was made by the old drummer from the Starlight Girls), I was elated. Great, I thought. A record to review! I always sorta liked the Starlight Girls, and I’ve done too many bad reviews in this issue. So I put some Tiger Balm on my neck, threw this EP on, and immediately realized that nostalgic doo-wop is the sonic equivalent of a reverse colon explosion. On the bright side, I did come up with this joke that isn’t funny: I just farted in from the starlight, and boy is my asshole tired.
Think About Forgotten Days
Next time I dook out another baby, I’m not going to allow him or her or shim to experience any natural sounds. I’m going to raise my spawn on a healthy diet of early Boredoms records, in hopes that the little bugger will end up at least partially like Shinji Masuko. He’s a Boredoms guitarist and guitar tech, but you probably know him as the guy who founded DMBQ, the best rock ’n’ roll band in the Land of the Rising Son. He’s also a porn journalist, and considering the ungodly shit the Japs are into, I imagine his brain is glazed with a permanent layer of filth. Now that he’s putting out another solo record of heavy dronage, I’d like to formally request that he shoot his man milk into my cooter so I can get started on my child’s education.
I like the various Kinsella family bands as much as the next guy with horn-rimmed glasses, but it’s rare that you find a band name so horrific that it reflexively puckers up your anus, siphons feces out of your lower intestine, and the shit geyser somehow makes its way up your throat and is ejected out of your nose and ears. In other words, I didn’t listen to this, and neither should you.
WORST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
The problem with solo projects is that there’s no one around to put the brakes on every bullshit idea you’ve got. That seems to be exactly what happened to Brian DeGraw from Gang Gang Dance, who recently moved to Woodstock to cram every half-baked idea he’s ever had (including beat-boxing) onto one intolerable record. Maybe this shit goes over well at the Ulster County farmers’ market, but to my ears, it’s a forgettable polyp in synth pop’s O-ring.
PHILIP “C” REILLY
Christian Workout Power Pack
Capitol Christian Distribution
You were probably proud when you found the Desperate Bicycles’ Remorse Code LP in the dollar bin, but when I came across this gem I felt like fucking Friedrich Miescher. Get this: it’s specifically and explicitly a triple-disc collection made for Christian women aged 30 to 45 to help them break a sweat at the local YWCA. Plus, there are no digital downloads, it’s only available in Christian bookstores, and Christianity is a vicious celestial dictatorship that encourages ignorance, cruelty, and genocide.
Have you ever tried to kill a cockroach? First off, these little sharts have been around since dinosaurs were playing Twister in the Grand Canyon. What’s more is that they can live for almost a month without food, run up to three miles per hour, hold their breath for almost 40 minutes, and stay alive for a week without their fucking heads. Yeah, that’s right. Even if we lopped off Britney’s shaved head, we’d still have at least a week left of her very, very sad residency in Las Vegas, where every performance opens with another new song with the word bitch in the title.
BEST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
BARNETT + COLOCCIA
I’ve been weirdly dizzy for the past week, and this morning I finally got it together to see a doctor, who immediately diagnosed me with “an extreme form of pseudovertigo.” Aside from obsessively cataloguing every single drug I’ve taken in the past three months, and wondering if I’m personally responsible for the tunnel vision and heinous I’m-on-a-boat feeling I’ve been dealing with, I’ve also been basking in the cognitive dissonance that comes with diagnosing a condition with the prefix pseudo- as “extreme.” Is that even possible? Listening to this record, which sounds like an “extreme” version of a pseudo-Are You Afraid of the Dark? theme, I’m pretty sure it is. This music feels tailor-made for the moment when an ailment becomes so intolerable that the only prescription is to take your anger out on society at large. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to google how to get this damn Bacillus anthracis onto a postage stamp.
DUKUS P. TEKUM
Wow! An album of Nina Simone covers that obliterates all the profound and nuanced vocal work that makes me love Nina Simone, sucking her songs into a frilly vortex of Jamie Stewart’s depression profiteering! I haven’t thought about Xiu Xiu since high school (“I love the valley, OH!”), but I honestly thought this guy would be in jail by now for declaring jihad on fun. BARNEY STAHL